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The Dangers of Untreated ADHD in Adults

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Oct 21, 2021

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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When left untreated, ADHD can have a significant impact on an adult ’s life. The symptoms can lead to problems such as maintaining steady employment or a lasting relationship. ADHD can also often be comorbid with other mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. The symptoms of adult ADHD can have a further impact on those conditions as well.

In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms of ADHD and the dangers of leaving these symptoms untreated.

At Klarity, we can connect you with a licensed provider within the next 48 hours so you no longer need to live with untreated ADHD. Take the first step to getting a professional diagnosis and proper treatment today with Klarity’s free self-assessment.

Why wait to prioritize your mental health? Get started toward a happier, healthier life on Klarity now.

ADHD Explained

Often diagnosed in childhood, ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects approximately 4% of adults in the United States (according to There are three main types of adult ADHD: Inattentive/Distractible, Impulsive/Hyperactive, and Combined.

  • Inattentive/Distractible: this type of adult ADHD is characterized by an inability to pay attention, forgetfulness, disorganization, and other related symptoms.
  • Hyperactive/Impulsive: the least common form of adult ADHD–some of the symptoms of this form of ADHD include an inability to sit still, restlessness, and a tendency to interrupt other people.
  • Combined: with this most common type of ADHD, the sufferer has symptoms of both Inattentive/Distractible and Impulsive/Hyperactive ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD

There are several symptoms of combined ADHD, all of which can be severe if the disorder is left untreated.

  • Tendency to procrastinate
  • Easily distracted
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Lack of focus
  • Hyperfocus
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity

Dangers of Untreated ADHD

Untreated ADHD can have a significant impact on a person’s life. They may fail in relationships, have serious trouble at work, or act rashly and have to suffer the consequences. The impact of untreated ADHD in adults is far-reaching and bleeds into every aspect of life. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms of adult ADHD, Klarity can help. Schedule an evaluation with an experienced clinician today.

Below we discuss the dangers of untreated ADHD.

Substance Abuse

Studies have shown that there is a modest connection between ADHD and substance abuse. The ADHD sufferer may be looking for relief from his or her symptoms and may turn to drugs or alcohol. This tendency can spiral out of control. A person who suffers from untreated adult ADHD can tend to act recklessly, which can feed into the cycle of substance abuse.

Job Performance Issues

The symptoms of untreated ADHD run contrary to solid job performance. If a person suffers from an inability to concentrate, their work is going to suffer. Inattentiveness from ADHD may cause someone to miss important details or deadlines. Procrastination is another ADHD symptom that can cause serious problems at work, as tasks left undone can pile up and become overwhelming. 

ADHD sufferers often have a history of short tenure at jobs. They also have more jobs on average than people who don’t have untreated adult ADHD.

Relationship Issues

Untreated adult ADHD can have a serious impact on relationships with non-ADHD people. For example, when a person is inattentive (one of the symptoms of adult ADHD), the person’s partner can naturally become hurt and resentful, and the relationship can suffer as a result. In some instances, the ADHD sufferer has hyperfocused on the relationship at the beginning, then has backed off as their attention was diverted elsewhere. The non-ADHD partner may be bewildered by this shift and may begin to pull away. 

People with ADHD can have short tempers, which can also cause serious strain on relationships. Those with ADHD are often married for a shorter duration than average and often are married more times than those who don’t suffer from the disorder.

Increased Risk of Depression and Anxiety

There are a few reasons someone with untreated adult ADHD may also face symptoms of depression and anxiety. ADHD can lead someone to take risks without thinking about the consequences, and those consequences can lead to a feeling of hopelessness or anxiety about the future. Poor job performance and uncertain relationships can also result in depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and depression take a further toll on a person’s quality of life.

Reckless Behavior

People with untreated adult ADHD may be more prone to engage in reckless behavior. They may act rashly, without thinking, and be left to suffer the consequences. People with ADHD may be reckless while driving, which can lead to speeding tickets and traffic accidents. They may be impulsive at work as well, which can lead to decreased job performance and termination.

Reckless behavior is one of the more severe symptoms of untreated adult ADHD.

Reduced Life Expectancy

Recent studies have shown a link between untreated ADHD and a shorter life expectancy. This could be due to many factors, including those listed above. ADHD sufferers may be prone to reckless behavior, such as speeding, which puts them at greater risk for accidents. People with ADHD are also more likely to ignore doctors’ orders about maintaining a healthy weight or quitting tobacco use.

These factors and others may reduce the life expectancy of an adult with untreated ADHD.

If You Suspect You May Have ADHD, Don’t Put Off Diagnosis

Untreated adult ADHD can have a major impact throughout a person’s life, so if you suspect you may have ADHD, don’t wait to get help. Schedule an appointment with a licensed medical professional on Klarity today.

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